“Frozen 2” opens with a song about everything staying the same. Promptly, everything changes, tearing apart the happy ending the first “Frozen” movie provided in 2013. The result is a movie that is both more emotional and funnier than its predecessor. And, by forgoing a traditional villain in favor of a quest-driven plot, “Frozen 2” adds thematic weight for a children’s movie, which all makes for an engaging experience for adults and kids alike.
In the spirit of its predecessor, “Frozen 2” has a stellar soundtrack. Although it may not be on the same caliber of “Let It Go,” the film’s signature song “Into the Unknown” is about as good of a follow up as one could hope for, chronicling Elsa’s struggle with a voice in her head. As “Into the Unknown” gradually crescendos, it serves up a barrage of memorable lyrics before cresting with a final emphatic chorus, Idina Menzel delivering as nobody else could.
The film also featured several backup characters that probably deserve a little more fleshing out after the first film. Early on in the movie, it’s revealed that Kristoff has plans to propose to none other than Anna. Cute, right? But instead he joins the pantheon of movie characters unable to convey their feelings, so clearly, some growth is in order. This culminates in his first song in the “Frozen” movies, “Lost in the Woods,” which is about being, uh, lost in the woods without Anna.
Although the song may seem to be a bit trite, its onscreen visuals turn the song into the most hilarious moment of the entire movie. It’s an ‘80s psychedelic trip presented in a 2019 Disney movie, involving nothing less than complete moose choruses, floating faces and probably a few mushrooms or something. Expect to laugh.
Another song notable for its comedic value is Olaf’s solo, “When I’m Older,” which is a vast improvement on the first movie’s “In Summer.” Not only is it funnier, but it seems to create some actual character development for the much-maligned Olaf. In “Frozen 2,” Olaf transcends his sole role as comic relief, finally achieving something resembling relevance to the plot. Through his process of maturation, Olaf not only comes into his own but also serves as inspiration for other characters.
“Frozen 2” likewise improves upon its predecessor by being vastly more moving. Part of this is due to the story simply being far darker than the first film, filled with scenes of despair and loss uncommon for a PG-rated movie. On top of that, there are heart-wrenching moments, like Anna’s “The Next Right Thing,” where at least a few people in the theater will undoubtedly be moved to tears. There are also several genuinely frightening moments and a surprising number of unexpected realizations for a children’s movie.
The movie is able to accomplish all of this while avoiding any semblance of a bad guy for its plot. Instead, the characters have to contend with other opponents, among them nature and colonialism. Although it’s fairly obvious to virtually everybody older than 15, toward the end of the movie it is revealed that Arendell’s past isn’t as sparkling clear as once believed.
Fortunately for Elsa and Anna, Disney movies always have happy endings, and the scars of a post-colonialist world can easily be written off with a neatly designed storyline. It’s wishful thinking, though, to believe “Frozen 2” is going to be solving any of these problems outside of movie theaters. Nevertheless, just the inclusion of mature topics greatly improves the movie experience for nostalgia-seeking college students and parents accompanying their children. Not only does the onscreen struggle give older viewers something to think about, it’s also quite refreshing to see Disney beginning to expose children to these important issues — surrounded by popcorn, butter and cushioned seats, no less.